Review of Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
This is sexy, sweet, great escapism from Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings.
Josh and Hazel were college acquaintances, and they shared some showstopper-level past encounters (see: his walking in on her with his roommate, in flagrante delicto; her throwing up on his shoes; her deliriously e-mailing him while on painkillers from surgery). He's fresh from a breakup and she hasn't been serious about anyone since her college boyfriend showed his true colors. But Josh turns out to be her newish best friend's brother, so they're thrown together again and again.
Josh is calm and collected, and Hazel is uninhibited and free-spirited. They're becoming good friends who bring out the best in each other. So naturally they'd keep setting each other up for blind double dates. Hijinx ensue!
Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating totally fits the bill as light-fiction escapism--in this case, with lots of sexy talk and sexy scenes and sexy thoughts and sex!
Hazel is a strong personality, but I found myself bristling at her questioning whether she's too much sometimes. She wavers between being an unapologetically big personality bursting with joy and essentially asking "Uh-oh, was that too Hazel-ish?" I liked how Josh became the first to come to her defense--both against her own periodically doubtful thoughts and against others who might question her. But I didn't love that a man was swooping in to help cement that who she was as a person was acceptable, and I didn't think Hazel would really need that, either.
Some of Hazel's reported past antics are over-the-top absurd (She attempted to adopt a tiger? She argued to try to house chickens inside her tiny apartment?). Those took me out of the story a little bit. But the authors clearly care deeply about their characters, and the characters deeply care about each other, which makes for a heartwarming read where everyone is trying to love and live and be happy. You can see a satisfying version of happily ever after coming, but I didn't predict the circumstances.
I listened to the audiobook, which was read in alternating chapters by a female and a male narrator. It's tough for me when a male narrator provides "the female voice" of the dialogue, and the male account of Hazel's voice here felt almost caricatured. I found it distracting.
What did you think?
Light, romantic fiction like this is a genre that's working well for me during Pandemic Times.
I first mentioned this book in my Greedy Reading List Three Books I'm Reading Now, 9/16/20 Edition.